Through years of history of mankind there have come some great leaders who carved a niche for themselves and etched their names in our memories forever. With their works and reforms contributing to the well being of people , they have won hearts and attracted critics alike.
We bring to you our selection of 10 such leaders from the world who have earned a spot on our list of greatest leaders of the modern world.
10. Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher was the first lady prime Minister of the Untied Kingdom and the only one till now. She was also the longest serving Prime Minister of the UK in the 20th century. Known as the Iron Lady, she introduced a new wing of reforms known as Thatcherism which emphasized on laissez-faire economics and individual self-determination. She brought many economic reforms helping Britain to improve on unemployment and the recession period. Born to a grocer in 1925, she served as the Prime Minister from 1979-1990. She has also worked as a Stateswoman, barrister and chemist. In her famous quote on arriving at 10 Downing Street she said;
Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.
9. George Washington
George Washington was the first President of the United states of America. Alsocalled the “Father of USA”, he held two terms of Presidency from 1789-1797 in an unanimous election process. During the American Revolutionary war, he served as the commander-in-chief of the continental army. He was a strong leader who laid the foundations of creation of a strong and well-financed government and nation making him one of the greatest leaders of the modern world.
He strongly disapproved of slavery calling it morally and economically deplorable. He in his famous farewell address he said:
Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
8. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt or FDR as we know him was the 32nd President of the United States of America from 1933-1945. He led USA through the times of the world economic depression. His efforts redefined American Liberalism and he built the New Deal Coalition bringing together labor unions and people from all ethnicity in support of this party. He introduced various economic reforms known as the New Deal. He led USA through the times of the second world war providing support to China and the UK by remaining a neutral party initially and later dealing with the attack of pearl harbor and the Hiroshima attack. The idea of his economic reforms can be best described by his famous quote:
The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
7. Martin Luther King Jr
Martin Luther King Jr is a well known name in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He carried forward the movement with nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs. He worked for the case of civil rights with President John Kennedy. In 1964, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting racial inequality through non-violence. He laid the groundwork for the organization now known as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He was assassinated in 1968 and was awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold after his death. He certainly was one of the greatest leaders of the modern world. To quote few lines from his famous address attended by over 200,000 civil-rights marchers at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.:
…… I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal…..I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.
6. Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of Britain for two terms. He led Britain to victory in his tenure during the second world war. He was an officer in the British Army and a writer. He led the army on both administrative and diplomatic fronts. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1953 for his many works published, the second world war. He was the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States. He was voted as the Greatest Briton of all times in a 2002 poll by BBC. During one of his addresses in the second world war he said:
We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight on the fields… we shall never surrender.
5. Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the President of the United States of America from 1861 until his assassination by John Wilkes Booth in 1865. Before joining the active politics of America, he was a self taught lawyer in Illinois. His tenure as the President was overshadowed with the Civil War. He led USA through this difficult crisis strengthening the nation by abolishing slavery and modernizing the economy. To commemorate his contributions, he appears on postage stamps, penny and $5 bill of the US currency. He was a fine orator which made him one of the greatest leaders of the modern world. His Gettysburg Address became an iconic of the principles of nationalism, republicanism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy:
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
4. Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon was the Emperor of France from 1804-1814 and then again in 1815. He is known for his role during the French revolution and the revolutionary wars. Considered as a great military commander, he expanded his kingdom over Europe through wars dominating the European and World affairs during hid reign. To his credit he has the Napoleonic code which was formed to set civil laws and rights, military organization where promotion would happen solely on the basis of merit, introduction of the metric system and educational reforms. To quote one of the greatest leaders of the modern world :
Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.
3. Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or Mahatma Gandhi as we know him was the face of Indian Independence from over two centuries of rule by the British and was one of the greatest leaders of the modern world. While studying law in South Africa, he noticed the deplorable conditions of the people and the ill treatment they received. He launched the Satyagrah or the non-violence movement as a way to protest against the British rule in India. He observed fasts and encouraged ahimsa or non -violent ways of protest. He was honored with the title if “Father of the nation”. He also fought for abolishing untouchability in India. He was assassinated by Nathuram Godse shortly after India’s independence.
He never held any office in the government. His views on power can be understood in this famous quote :
Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.
2. Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela was the first President of South Africa. He was the fore runner of a world wide movement against racism and apartheid. Known as the “ Father of the Nation” in South Africa he spent 27 years in jail fighting against anti-colonial politics and racism. He has won many honors and awards internationally for his work as a revolutionary including Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Soviet Lenin Peace Prize. His ideology was influenced by Indian independence leaders like Gandhi, African-American activists, and African nationalists like Nkrumah. To quote one of his famous words on his liberal democracy :
A friend once asked me how I could reconcile my creed of African nationalism with a belief in dialectical materialism. For me, there was no contradiction. I was first and foremost an African nationalist fighting for our emancipation from minority rule and the right to control our own destiny. I was prepared to use whatever means necessary to speed up the erasure of human prejudice and the end of chauvinistic and violent nationalism.
1. Che Guevara
Che Guevara was a major face of the Cuban revolution and infect still stands as a global face of rebel and revolution making him one of the greatest leaders of the modern world. He was born in Argentina and was an author, Marxist revolutionary, guerrilla leader and a diplomat. After seeing the conditions of people in south America afflicted by poverty and disease, he worked towards amending the economical conditions of the people. He emphasized on prioritizing the interest of others over self . He was a supporter of Karl Amrx’s philosophy which reflects in one of his writings :
The merit of Marx is that he suddenly produces a qualitative change in the history of social thought. He interprets history, understands its dynamic, predicts the future, but in addition to predicting it (which would satisfy his scientific obligation), he expresses a revolutionary concept: the world must not only be interpreted, it must be transformed. Man ceases to be the slave and tool of his environment and converts himself into the architect of his own destiny.
— Che Guevara, Notes for the Study of the Ideology of the Cuban
Greatest Leaders of the Modern World
- Che Guevara
- Nelson Mandela
- Mahatma Gandhi
- Napoleon Bonaparte
- Abraham Lincoln
- Winston Churchill
- Martin Luther King Jr
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
- George Washington
- Margaret Thatcher